What is a Subdural Hematoma?

Subdural Hematoma

A subdural hematoma is a traumatic head injury that can cause lifelong neurological dysfunction and financial instability due to the number of medical bills that come with the diagnosis. Subdural hematoma injuries are often caused by another person’s or entity’s negligence. For example, a victim of a texting and driving accident could hit their head too hard on their steering wheel or their window, causing a subdural hematoma. Or an elderly person could slip and fall on a water puddle in a nursing home hallway, causing a subdural hematoma. Instances like these warrant legal action. 

If you or someone you love has suffered physically, emotionally, and financially due to a subdural hematoma caused by someone else’s negligence, personal injury lawyers at Janicek Law are ready to defend you. Call our law firm today at 210-366-4949 for a free consultation.

What is a Subdural Hematoma?

A subdural hematoma is a type of traumatic brain injury. These head injuries are characterized by bleeding that occurs on the surface of the brain, just under the skull. More specifically, the brain bleed occurs between two layers of meninges: the dura mater and the arachnoid mater. The meninges are designed to protect the brain from damage.

Types of Subdural Hematoma

There are many types of subdural hematoma injuries. They are classified by the rate of development, how much bleeding occurs, and how much damage is sustained by the brain bleed.

Acute Subdural Hematoma

An acute subdural hematoma injury is the most dangerous and causes the most severe symptoms that appear rapidly following head trauma. As the blood pools on the brain’s surface, the pressure on the brain increases. Without immediate medical attention, people who suffer from acute subdural hematomas can suffer permanent brain damage or even death.

Subacute Subdural Hematoma

Symptoms from a subacute subdural hematoma can occur days or weeks after a head injury. In fact, many concussion sufferers are also diagnosed with this type of subdural hematoma. 

Chronic Subdural Hematoma

Chronic subdural hematomas are often caused by minor head injuries. Additionally, chronic subdural hematomas are very common head injuries among elderly people. Healthcare professionals believe that the elderly population is at a higher risk of developing this minor head injury because the brain slowly shrinks with age. This creates more subdural space so that the blood vessels in the brain could become more easily damaged. 

Chronic subdural hematoma brain bleeding happens very slowly, over the course of weeks or months, so symptoms appear slowly as well. In many cases, older adults don’t remember injuring their heads. 

Common Symptoms of a Subdural Hematoma

Acute, subacute, and chronic subdural hematomas can all cause life-threatening symptoms. You must seek medical attention immediately if you experience the following symptoms:

  • Slurred speech
  • Severe headache
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizures
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Weakness
  • Numbness
  • Difficulty walking
  • Changes in vision
  • An inability to move body parts on one side of the body
  • Changes in personality
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Memory loss

As previously stated, subdural hematoma symptoms can appear immediately after a brain injury or slowly over the course of a few days, weeks, or months. Oftentimes, subacute and chronic subdural hematomas are misdiagnosed as stroke or brain tumors.

Common Causes of Subdural Hematomas

Subdural hematomas occur due to a strong blow to the head. People may develop a brain bleed due to a nursing home fall, a car accident, a violent assault, a slip and fall accident, a sports accident, a bike accident, etc. Some chronic subdural hematomas, on the other hand, can develop from any minor injury.

Who Has an Increased Risk of Developing Subdural Hematomas?

Some people are at a higher risk of developing brain bleeds than others. A brain injury of any kind certainly raises the risk of acute subdural hematomas. In fact, UCLA Health claims that 10-20% of patients with traumatic brain injuries also have acute subdural hematomas. Other people who are at high risk for brain bleeds include:

  • Elderly people who frequently fall and suffer head injuries
  • People who are taking blood thinners every day
  • Alcoholics
  • Athletes
  • Babies
  • People who have hemophilia, a bleeding disorder

Subdural Hematoma Diagnosis

Diagnosing a subdural hematoma is fairly simple. Doctors will first perform a physical examination while asking about symptoms. If the patient lost consciousness during their injury, the doctor will ask a family or friend about the symptoms. 

Then the doctor will run a couple of imaging tests, such as a computed tomography (CT) scan or a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. These scans will easily highlight the brain tissue, the skull, the tiny veins, and blood vessels. Most importantly, one of these scans will show whether blood is pooling under the skull. 

Treatments For a Subdural Hematoma

The main treatments for a subdural hematoma are brain surgery or medication. One of the surgeries that can treat most subdural hematomas is a craniotomy. During this procedure, a surgeon will remove part of the skull in order to remove the blood clot. A craniotomy certainly has the potential to save lives, but it’s incredibly dangerous. In fact, a study from the Journal of Neurosurgery claims that 18% of craniotomy patients died within 30 days of their procedure.

A craniectomy is very similar to a craniotomy in that the surgeon removes a portion of the skull. The main difference is that the skull is replaced fairly immediately in a craniotomy. In a craniectomy, the goal is to reduce pressure inside the skull, especially if the bleeding has caused the brain to swell. So the doctor will remove a portion of the skull for a certain amount of time in order to reduce pressure.

Another surgery that could successfully treat a chronic or acute subdural hematoma is a burr hole procedure. This surgery is reserved for brain bleeds that are smaller than 1 centimeter. A surgeon will basically drill tiny holes into the skull and insert tubes that will drain out the brain bleed. A burr hole surgery can also be incredibly dangerous, but UCLA Health claims that 80-90% of subdural haematoma patients show significant neurological improvement following brain bleed drainage.

Subdural hematoma symptoms are often treated with medications. For example, if the patient is experiencing frequent seizures due to their brain bleeding, their doctor will likely prescribe them anticonvulsants. If brain swelling is a concern, a doctor may prescribe corticosteroids.

What Happens if a Subdural Hematoma Goes Untreated?

If a subdural hematoma goes untreated, the injured person is at a far greater risk of increased pressure on the brain due to continued bleeding. This could lead to seizures, permanent paralysis, a coma, or death.

Subdural Hematoma Complications

Even if a person receives proper medical treatment for a subdural hematoma, they can still face many complications during and after recovery. The severity of the complications depends on the severity of the brain bleed. 

  • Brain herniation occurs when increased skull pressure moves brain tissues. This condition often leads to a coma or death.
  • Frequent seizures.
  • Permanent muscle weakness, numbness, or paralysis.

Older adults and people who take blood thinners have the highest risk of developing complications from subdural hematomas. 

Can You Fully Recover From a Subdural Hematoma?

Subdural hematoma recovery varies from person to person. But according to UCLA Health, only 20-30% of people can recover full or partial brain function following their head injury. Those who suffer chronic subdural hematomas and those who are treated quickly have the best chance of full recovery. Additionally, young people generally have better recovery rates than elderly people.

How to Prevent Subdural Hematomas

Sometimes, major accidents and injuries are uncontrollable and unpreventable. But there are still steps you can take to protect yourself or your loved ones from a major head injury.

  • Protect Your Head: The most obvious way to prevent a major head injury is to wear a helmet on a bike or motorcycle and wear a seatbelt in a car. If you’re an athlete or if you work in a dangerous job, make sure you wear appropriate headgear.
  • Rest After a Head Injury: If you suffer a minor head injury like a concussion, make sure to rest as much as possible to prevent further damage. Symptoms of chronic subdural hematomas can appear over the course of days, weeks, or months. Too much physical or mental activity could exacerbate these symptoms or hinder overall recovery.
  • Look Out for Tripping or Slipping Hazards: If you are elderly, disabled, or generally clumsy, make sure to look out for tripping or slipping hazards. Loose cords, toys, water puddles, broken stairs, etc. can be incredibly dangerous and can lead to head injuries.
  • Check Your Vision Regularly: Poor vision can certainly lead to major accidents and injuries. If you notice your vision declining, be sure to get an appropriate glasses prescription.
  • Drink Responsibly: Excessive drinking can cause every system in the body to suffer. The brain is no exception. In fact, excessive drinking can cause excessive brain bleeding during a head injury.
  • Choose Highly Rated Nursing Homes: Unfortunately, many nursing home residents can suffer falls – and as a result, subdural hematomas – due to nursing home neglect and abuse. That’s why people should choose the best nursing home in the area for their loved ones, if possible. Additionally, check on your elderly loved ones frequently in nursing homes to ensure they receive the best care and attention.

Types of Damages for Subdural Hematoma Injuries

If your brain injury was directly caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be able to recover financial compensation. Personal injury lawyers at Janicek Law can help subdural hematoma victims recover the types of damages listed below. 

  • Past and future medical bills
  • Past and future rehabilitative bills
  • Emotional distress
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Expenses associated with medications and necessary medical equipment, such as wheelchairs or walkers
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of consortium
  • Funeral and burial expenses, if the subdural hematoma leads to wrongful death
subdural hematoma

Call Personal Injury Attorneys at Janicek Law Today

If you or someone you love has suffered a subdural hematoma due to someone else’s negligence in a nursing home, on the roads, at work, etc., you may have grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit and recover financial compensation. Experienced personal injury lawyers at Janicek Law will listen to your story, thoroughly investigate your claim, and fight for just compensation on your behalf. Call our law firm today at 210-366-4949 to get started on your attorney-client relationship. We offer a free consultation to all new clients.


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